That was the sentiment of four Cabrini students and a faculty member who joined more than 400 others Jan. 30 to jump into the 34-degree waters of the Delaware River.
The warm-hearted volunteers helped raise $56,000 for Special Olympics of Pennsylvania (SOPA) in the organization’s second annual Polar Bear Plunge. High winds and temperatures in the teens couldn’t stop David Dunbar, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, and the students from taking the plunge.
Opting to assist in a non-aquatic manner were nine more Cabrini students, who raised pledges and registered participants for the event. Traci Beltz ’10, who worked closely with SOPA to coordinate Cabrini’s participation, originally had not planned to dive into the Delaware, but promisedher pledges that she would if she raised a certain amount of money.
“Some of the people who pledged to me really wanted to see me jump in,” she said. “I told them if they helped me raise more than $400, I would do it.”
Beltz exceeded her goal, and took the icy dip to support the cause. Through pledges and donations, the Cabrini group raised $1,000 for SOPA. Beltz even convinced her friend Jesse DeWan, a student at Widener University, to jump in; as did Erin McArdle '12, Erin Jaskiewicz '10, and Sara Gohl '10. Cabrini has a long-standing relationship with SOPA, having partnered with them previously for events such as the Winter Sectional for Special Olympics athletes at Jack Frost Mountain. When this year’s sectional was canceled due to lack of funding, the Polar Bear Plunge became even more important as a fundraiser for SOPA.
“The support of this event is awesome,” said Gina Mulranen ’10, who has volunteered with SOPA for four years. “Today is all about empowerment. These athletes are like family to me, and when they see so many people supporting them, it does so much in terms of boosting their confidence, which translates to life skills, which helps them succeed.”